Before the release of any product we attend briefings with the company, and it is common for us to feel a mixture of scepticism and disbelief when we listen to executives rant on about performance benefits and why we should be telling the public to buy their solution. nVidia this time around were really pushing the ‘cooler running nature’ of this Fermi product as well as extremely low levels of noise from the redesigned cooler. We can understand why it would be a focus mind you as the GTX480 was the complete opposite.
From today we have changed our method of measuring noise levels. We have built a system inside a Lian Li chassis with no case fans and have used a fanless cooler on our CPU. We are using a heatpipe based passive power supply and an Intel SSD to keep noise levels to a minimum. The motherboard is also passively cooled. This gives us a build with completely passive cooling and it means we can measure noise of just the graphics card inside the system when we run looped 3dMark tests. Ambient noise in the room is around 20-25dBa. We measure from a distance of around 1 meter from the chassis and 4 foot from the ground to mirror a real world situation.
Why do this? Well this means we can eliminate secondary noise pollution in the test room and concentrate on only the video card. It also brings us slightly closer to industry standards, such as DIN 45635.
KitGuru noise guide
10dBA – Normal Breathing/Rustling Leaves
20-25dBA – Whisper
30dBA – High Quality Computer fan
40dBA – A Bubbling Brook, or a Refridgerator
50dBA – Normal Conversation
60dBA – Laughter
70dBA – Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA – City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA – Motorcycle or Lawnmower
100dBA – MP3 player at maximum output
110dBA – Orchestra
120dBA – Front row rock concert/Jet Engine
130dBA – Threshold of Pain
140dBA – Military Jet takeoff/Gunshot (close range)
160dBA – Instant Perforation of eardrum
The nVidia solutions are extremely quiet and noticeably better than the cooler that is on the reference HD5830 card. When the HD5830 is loaded it becomes audible very quickly, whereas the GTX460 remains fairly quiet at all times.
What is most important to take from this however is that in ‘Real world terms’ this basically means that the GTX460 will never be heard above a few case fans. Excellent results for nVidia here.